Review:Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

by Lynn on April 26, 2024

in The Passionate Playgoer

l-r: Deborah Shaw, David Agro

Live and in person at the Red Sandcastle Theatre, Toronto, Ont. Produced by Zippysaid Productions. Running until April 28, 2024.

Written by Edward Albee

Directed by David Agro

Cast: David Agro

Chloe Matamoros

Josh Palmer

Deborah Shaw

A love story about a couple who got their kicks by arguing viciously especially in front of unwitting witnesses.

The Story. George and Martha, long married, have just come home from a boozie party hosted by Martha’s father. He’s the president of the College where George teachers history. Martha’s father hosts these parties so that the new faculty can meet the established faculty and get acquainted. To that end, Martha has invited a young couple from the party, over for a night cap. Nick teaches biology and his young, fragile wife Honey, tries to fit it. George is aghast that Martha invited them since it’s already 2 am.

Nick and Honey arrive, eager to please. They realize that Martha and George are not any ordinary battling couple. Martha and George sing invective and insults at each other, while drinking more and more. Secrets are shared and spilled. To rile George, Martha comes on to Nick. Since Nick is ambitious who acquiesces to the President’s daughter’s advances. Honey is so fragile she had to throw up frequently. When the final secrets are revealed and George concludes the evening with Martha in quiet kindness, we realize how much they really love each other.

The Production. Like any actors who want to act, David Agro and his acting colleague Deborah Shaw know that the best way of making that happen is to produce their own work.  Last year Deborah Shaw wrote and performed in her one-person play her about a woman with a troubled past. David Agro directed it. This year they are both acting in (with David directing again) Edward Albee’s towering 1962 play, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Deborah Shaw plays the brassy Martha to David Agro’s subdued but biting George. Their unsuspecting guests are Josh Palmer as the buff, smart Nick and Chloe Matamoros as his wife, the naïve, fragile Honey.

The ‘stage’ is set in establishing the relationship and characters of Martha and George from the get-go. Martha bellows in her drunken stupor as soon as she arrives home from her father’s party, with George trying to subdue her. Their wrangling probably started at the party. It will continue when Nick and Honey arrive. George and Martha are at their fighting best with an ‘audience.’

The evening progresses with more drinking, more accusations, more flirting by Martha towards Nick; George being disgusted and Honey following close behind. The animosity escalates and reaches a crescendo with George doing something drastic to end the invective.

Deborah Shaw plays Martha as an in-your-face loudmouth who yearns for attention. David Agro plays George with a controlled contempt, until he can’t stand it and looses control. The two young actors, are impressive finds. As Nick, Josh Palmer listens intently and reacts with wariness. He is also very confident and knows how to read the room. Chloe Matamoros has that subtle look on her face of a woman trying to keep up with what is happening, and seeming to be just a beat behind. She too is compelling in her focus on what is happening.

Director David Agro uses the small space of the Red Sandcastle Theatre very effectively in establishing relationships, both close and estranged.  What the production might lack in nuance and subtlety, it makes up for in commitment of all involved.

 Zippysaid Productions presents:

Plays until April 28, 2024.

Running time: 2 ½ hours (one intermission)

Leave a Comment

Respectful comments are accepted on this site as long as they are accompanied by a verifiable name and a verifiable e-mail address. Posts that are slanderous, libelous or personally derogatory will not be approved.